I ain’t no fisherman.
I am illiterate to the fishing lingo; dumbfounded by its techniques. Oblivious to its practices; unsure of its traditions. Non-abiding to its procedures; inexperienced in its ways.
Non-adhering to its mannerisms; unfamiliar with its legends. Unknown to its themes; unsure of its policies. Incoherent with its stories; unpolished to its philosophies.
I repeat—I am not a fisherman. Never was and never will be.
And then something funny happened.
Last Thursday, a gentleman by the name of John Maffei took me on a trip. Some of you know him, some may not, it doesn’t matter. But I will forever know him as the person that took me on my first fishing expedition of my 22-year existence.
I wasn’t there to fish, though, and I honestly wasn’t interested in fishing. I just was interested in getting a story. I was interested in doing a job and to do that job, I had to do something I had never done before.
So I handed over a Sir John A. MacDonald the day before and purchased a day fishing licence, figuring that John, a professional fisherman, would want me to fish with him. And the more comfortable somebody is, the better quotes you get and then the story usually follows suit.
So I sacrificed. I strapped in. I sat down. I looked. I spoke. I listened. I tried and by the end . . . I was in love. It hasn’t even been a week yet and I’m already feeling withdrawl—with John serving as my dealer and fishing being the perfect drug.
It’s been a week and if I don’t go out fishing soon, I’m scared I might start looking like Jack Nicholson just before he lost it in “The Shining” (no fishing and no play make Emmanuel go crazy).
It’s been a week since that beautiful day when I, a city boy from Edmonton, got formally introduced to a sport that previously was a mystery.
Of course, I knew of fishing, but pictured it as a group of ear-pierced baby-boomers, with too much money in their bank accounts and too much time on their hands, who went out, stuck some worms on a hook, placed it in some polluted water, and just waited as they got drunk from beer and talked about last week’s A.A. meeting and NASCAR’s driver standings.
How wrong I was—and I apologize to those I offended.
The sport cannot be simply put into words, it must be experienced. How do you describe Picasso’s Guernica? Or Beethoven’s symphonies or Heidi Klum’s beauty? You can’t. But you can try.
Fishing is as right as two dry martinis at lunch. It’s better feeling than ice cubes down your back on a hot day. It can be as tough as rawhide and as gentle as a mother, reasonable and obstinate beyond reason, and courtly and benevolent and fierce.
It can be kind-hearted and hard-fisted. It can drive a close bargain, and has suckered anglers in a hundred deals. It can be generous and thoughtful, rude and autocratic, shy and independent, and altogether completely lovable.
Having a professional fisherman serving as a guide helped the experience a bit (huge understatement). John took me from end to end on a lake he knows better than the contents of his wallet (I’m not even sure where we were and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell).
When I save enough money to purchase a boat (I am starting a fund called “Let Emmanuel Fish Fund”), I don’t want visitors trespassing on “my spot.”
My spot is beautiful. It’s an island a little ways from shore and this is where I caught my Moby Dick. I had caught three (that’s right, three) smallmouth bass beforehand and they were the lake’s way of testing me to see if I was ready for “him.”
The Lady of the Lake gave me flying marks on my previous catches, and so did John, and now I was ready. My technique was still rougher than sand but my mind was smoother than glass.
He jerked. I pulled. He struggled. I fought. It was a battle from start to finish and as sweat beaded down my brow, John offered his hand and said, “Good work, son. Congratulations.”
Moby Dick was in the boat. I repeat, the beast was in the boat. My beast (a northern pike) was a little over 15 pounds, but felt like 30, and was more beautiful than life itself. To me, it was as though I had accomplished the 12 labours of Hercules.
No single phrase or sentence can possibly capsulate the incredible sensation that went through my bones and tingled down my spine as I reeled Moby in. It was like being reborn.
And now I’m hooked. I’m in. Sign me up. Do you want my John Hancock with crayon, pen, or blood? Because my tale has only begun. My story has just started and is pitifully inadequate.
I want more. Need more, and don’t know how much longer I can hold out.
“Commend the murderous chalices! Bestow them, ye who are now made parties to this indissoluble league. . . . Drink, ye harpooners! Drink and swear, ye men that man the deathful whaleboat’s bow—Death to Moby Dick! God hunt us all, if we do not hunt Moby Dick to his death!” (Chapter 36, “Moby Dick,” by Herman Melville).
Suggestions? Comments? Fishing tips? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I ain’t no fisherman.